By Katie Vandomelen
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have someone lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the teaching in triads (5 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
- How did last week go with considering a digital rule of life? What aspects were surprising or challenging?
- If you spent less time on devices or social media, how did that feel?
Read this overview
As disciples of Jesus, our threefold goal is to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and eventually do the kinds of things Jesus himself did. In the gospels we see that Jesus led a life immersed in what we call spiritual disciplines. One definition of the spiritual disciplines is: “Practices based on the lifestyle of Jesus that create a time and space for us to access the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, and in doing so, be transformed from the inside out.”
In any discussion of spiritual disciplines, it is important to remember their purpose. Any practices are intended to lead us into greater depth of relationship with God himself and further transformation into the likeness of Jesus in our respective contexts. In the language of John 15, our goal is to “abide in the vine,” or to remain in and with God. The practices of abiding and the mind are meant to reorder and reorient our hearts and minds to God.
Here are many of the common practices:
- Silence and solitude
- Prayer (a conversation where both parties share openly and listen carefully to each other)
- Reading Scripture
- Study / Teaching (books, podcasts, etc)
- Worship by singing
- Sunday gathering (community, communion, worship, teaching)
We must remember that everything we spend our time doing shapes us in one way or another. Neuroscience confirms what Jesus taught, that our habits, practices, relationships have the capacity to change us and this can be for better or for worse. Our daily actions contribute to the way we either become more like Jesus or less like him. This means that our daily practices (such as prayer, solitude, community) can steward and ongoing awareness of God’s nearness. This also means the time we give to things and ideas not of Jesus may inhibit our growth. In our written rule of life, we are making space for practices that enable depth and intimacy while being mindful of practices that distract us from awareness of God’s presence.
Do this Practice as a Community right now (10-15 minutes)
Individually or together as a group, take five or ten minutes and (in a journal or note on your phone):
- List what types of practices fill your daily and weekly rhythms that contribute to intimacy and closeness with God.
- List what types of activities can distract or draw away from awareness and closeness with God. What habits/routines contribute to feelings of emptiness?
Talk through the following discussion questions:
- Which practices seem most inviting and strengthening to you? Which practices sound draining and/or tired?
- What practices would you like to add in, cut out, or change?
Discuss the coming week’s Practice (5 minutes)
The Practice for this week is to map out activities and disciplines to continue and/or incorporate in your daily, weekly, monthly (etc.) practices. This week take at least 30 minutes to do the following:
Spend some time in listening prayer asking the Spirit and thinking through the following questions:
- What are 2-3 words or phrases that currently describe the spiritual condition of your heart/soul?
- What are steps that can be taken to help you toward a goal of closeness with God and transformation?
Give yourself time to list out your current practices, and to imagine what a more intentional rule of life could look like for you in this season.
If some of these practices (silence and solitude, prayer, reading scripture, study, singing, church gathering, confession, gratitude) are new to you, consider implementing them. If these are practices that need refreshing, consider what needs to change in how you practice them. If these are habits that are strengthening and helpful to you, keep it up!
You are encouraged to spend daily time reading the scriptures and in prayer, listening and talking to God. If this is new to you, start with 5-10 minutes a day (3-5x a week) and continue from there. The key idea is to remember where you are at, and not try to “skip ahead.” Have grace for yourself and where you are at in implementing practices.
Good practices include:
- Creating an environment to focus. Put phones away and limit distractions.
- Waking up and spending the first moments of your day in prayer and reading scripture. If scripture reading is new to you, the Gospels or Psalms are a great place to start. Be sure to avoid immediate phone use.
- Spending moments of prayer and solitude throughout the day and week are also encouraged. This can be during the kids’ naps, during breaks at work, daily commuting, or during a walk in the neighborhood.
- Reading books that encourage spiritual growth and direction, listening to podcasts or teachings, spending time with a friend or mentor.
- Sabbath: having a weekly dedicated day of rest and worship to enjoy with family and/or by oneself.
- Limiting exposure to distracting or compromising activities (ie. excessive phone use, media scrolling, binge-watching shows, etc.)
Recommended baseline practices: Commit to daily time spent in prayer and reading the scriptures. Weekly coming to a church gathering and community. Weekly time to rest and practice solitude.
Keep in mind:
- Your particular season of life and stage of apprenticeship.
- Set specific and modest goals for yourself. (With practices new to you, 2-3 times a week may be appropriate. If you have been at this longer, a more moderate time frame may be daily for 30-minutes to an hour.)
- Find a balance between upstream and downstream practices. (Often the practices we do not like or enjoy are the ones we need!)
- Include room for structure and spontaneity
Work through these discussion questions before you call it a night (5–10 minutes)
- What sorts of thoughts or feelings come up as you consider adjusting, adding, or removing certain practices or habits?
- Based on your life circumstances (single or married, living alone or with roommates, family, career, etc.), which practices fit most easily into your routine? Which might take more creative planning?
Close in prayer (5 minutes)